Chameleon Books published two Preston Front novels in order to coincide with Series 3 in 1997.
Both were by Ed Jones, who is from Manchester and has written original novels called "Come Again"
and "Every Mother For Himself".
Liberty, Equality, Virginity
This is the story of the summer of '89 - the summer a teenage Hodge and Eric reach the greatest
landmarks in their lives - joining the TA and losing their virginity. It is the story of how,
en route, they encounter a six-foot-tall rocker called Lloydy, a vicious, emotionally damaged
corporal called Polson and an intense history student called Simon. It is the story of what happened
five years before the TV series, Preston Front, began.
What is the secret of Hodge's extraordinary luck with
older women and Eric's dismal failure with any of them? Why is the bookish student hanging out
with a chapter of armed Hell's Angels? Why is there a venomous snake in Corporal Polson's jeans?
And why does that mysterious girl keep undressing in front of her window?
An irresistable read for fans of the series and
newcomers alike, this funny and touching new novel was inspired by the multi-award winning BBC1
comedy, Preston Front, and is based on Tim Firth's original character notes for the series.
This is an original novel, even to the extent that it does not carry a Preston Front
prefix in the title. As the blurb quoted above makes clear, it is a prequel to the series, set
in the Summer of 1989, some five years before the start of the series and charts a number
of key events that would shape the series itself, notably Hodge's brief affair with Jeanetta.
The novel also features Eric joining the TA after his father's breakdown, encouraging Lloydy and
later Hodge to do the same. Here they join other newcomers to the company, namely Corporal Polson
and Spock, here a postgraduate student who only acquires his nickname towards the end of the novel.
Other characters from the series appear, namely Sara
Polson, Greg Scarry and Eric's parents. However, others are absent, notably Dawn, Ally, Diesel and
Rundle. Of course, this is understandable in some of these cases since the novel is set before
they arrive in Roker Bridge. The most important original character is Nichola Wheelan, an abused
teenager over whom Eric gets somewhat emotionally confused.
Generally the novel is successful in capturing the spirit of the series, albeit in a
somewhat more adult manner. Although apparently based on Tim Firth's original character
notes for the series, there are a number of inconsistencies with throwaway
references from the series; for instance in the series it was said that Jeanetta and Hodge
met when he was working in the Blackpool leisure club that she was a member of, whereas
here this is changed to a hotel. They also enjoy a protracted affair, as opposed to the
one night stand referred to in the series. In addition, the novel features Eric losing his
virginity to Nichola, which although not actually contradicting the series seems to
go against the spirit of the series itself which implies that his first time is with Dawn.
However, on other occassions the novel is careful to tie into the series; for instance, after
liberating the contents of a Roker Bridge pet shop Lloydy is sentenced to community service by
a magistrate called Charles who also used to be his old headmaster, something referred to in
Preston Front: Ostriches and Marijuana
"Honest Hodge, the gearboxes are dead similar and having that noodle bowl loose on top makes
y' concentrate. It's like them Maori women that learn to walk with pots on their heads."
"Eric, Maori women don't have to do emergency stops."
Consisting of previously unseen material, this novel follows the third series of Tim Firth's
award-winning comedy drama Preston Front.
OSTRICHES AND MARIJUANA is the hilarious and moving story of Hodge's journey, from the
nightmare of his driving test to the realisation of his dream of fatherhood; of Eric's entanglement
with Triad gangsters and the collapse of his only love-affair; of Ally's continuing battle
to control both her desire for her Commanding Officer and her desire to murder her conniving
sergeant Polson; of Lloydy's house-warming that nearly brings the house down; of Spock's hot-wiring
history pupil; and the final extraordinary effects on life in Roker Bridge of Diesel's ostrich
and Jeanetta's marijuana.
The second book is a straightforward novelisation of Series 3, even to the extent that it
is split into seven chapters corresponding to each of the episodes. There are some
minor additions - it is mentioned towards the end that Laura is pregnant by Greg, and
there is a revelation concerning Hodge's father. Declan is also given the surname Caine,
which was not used on screen. One oddity in the book is that
Mr Wang's first name is given as Colin, rather than Peter as in the series.